Sunday, 18 May 2014

The Abiding Presence Of The Holy Ghost in the Soul, by Bede Jarrett, O.P. part 27. Grace.

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1. The indwelling, then, of the Holy Spirit is a true and magnificent phrase. It means that we become living Temples of God. Elsewhere indeed He is in tree, flower, sky, earth, water; up in the Heavens, down to the depths of the lower places, in the cleft wood and lifted stone, in the heart of all creation by the very fact of its creation. Yet the higher a thing is in the scale of being the more nearly is it after God’s image and likeness, so that man by his sheer intelligence is more representative of God, as the highest masterpiece is more representative of the author of it. Yet over and above this intelligent life of man is another life in him, which secures God’s presence within him in some nobler fashion, for it is noticeable that Scripture repeatedly speaks of God’s dwelling in His saints, and not dwelling in sinners. Now He is even in sinners by the title of their Creator, so that dwelling must be a deliberate phrase chosen by the Inspired author of Scripture to represent some presence above the mere general presence of God everywhere. Consequently we are driven to the conclusion that the saints, in virtue of their sainthood, become dwelling places of God, temples, special places set apart, where in a more perfect way, with richer expression and more true representation, God is. Sanctity, therefore, constitutes something wholly supernatural, attracting God’s indwelling, or rather resulting from this indwelling of God.

2. Now sanctity itself cannot mean that one man is able to make himself so alluring to God that he draws God to himself, for in that case God’s action of indwelling would be motived by a creature, and God would have found some finite reason for His act. This cannot be, since the only sufficient motive for God can be God Himself. “He hath done all things on account of Himself,” say the Scriptures. We can be sure, therefore, that the indwelling of the spirit is the cause and not the effect of the goodness that is in man, for the Saints are not born, but made by God. Hence we understand what is meant by saying that the justice of the Saints, their justification, is effected by grace, i. e., by God’s free gift. It is not from them, but from Him: “Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to Thy name give Glory.” Grace, therefore, is the name given to that divine habit whereby the soul is made one with Him. It is clear, then, also, why in the catechism grace is called the supernatural life of the soul, and why mortal sin is called the death of the soul, since it kills the soul by depriving it of sanctifying grace.

3. This leads us to the last notion of grace, that it is in the supernatural order what the soul is in the natural order. My soul is everywhere in my body and gives evidence of its presence by the life there manifest; cut off a portion of the body, amputate a limb. It dies. The soul is no longer in it. So does grace work. It is right in the very essence of the soul, at the heart of it, and works through into all the faculties and powers by means of the virtues. It is the life of the whole assemblage of these habits of goodness. As soon as it is withdrawn, then at once charity goes, for we are out of friendship with God, and charity is nothing other than the love of God. Hope still and faith in some form remain, but without any inner life or energy to quicken them. All else is a crumbled ruin, without shape or life, a sight to fill those that can see it with horror and disgust. With grace the soul is once more thronged with vital activities, for grace is life. Grace it is that gives the same charm to the soul as life gives to the body; it imparts a freshness, an alertness, an elasticity, a spontaneous movement, a fragrance, a youth. By grace we are children in God’s eyes, with the delicate colouring and sweetness of a child; without it we are old, worn, dead, not only useless to ourselves, but a pollution to others. Need one wonder if all life is different to the soul in sin? Religion, God, Heaven, Mass, prayers, have lost all attraction and are full of drudgery. Outwardly we feel the same; but our attraction to these higher gifts has gone, a prodigal as yet content with the husks of life’s fruitage, relishing only the food of swine, without grace, spiritually dead.